Away, away, he shouts, sending her up the hill,
through furze and bracken, to gather scattered sheep.
Listening for his whistle to bear left or right,
she snakes towards them, belly to the ground.
They raise their heads, sniff, ears pricked,
then flock together and run for the gate.
She comes back panting, stands at his side,
eyes bright, tongue lolling out.
She had the herding instinct from birth;
when she was just a pup he’d find her
in the haggard rounding up the hens.
You’ll make a right cod of her, he gives out,
when we dress her up like our teacher
in our mother’s headscarf and glasses.
We sit her at the kitchen table,
offer her a cup of tea and a scone.
A Sunday close to lambing, three men in the yard,
one with a rifle under his arm. Your dog and Dunne’s
wreaked havoc last night, thirty ewes dead or dying,
mangled in barbed wire, lamb beds hanging out.
From an upstairs window we watch him
walk to the shed. He drags her by the scruff,
leaves her at their feet. He says nothing
when he comes in, says little for weeks.